Copyright 1999 Daily Californian via U-Wire
University Wire
March 2, 1999

LENGTH: 567 words

HEADLINE: U. California-Berkeley law professor dies at age 90

BYLINE: By Bernice Ng, Daily Californian

SOURCE: U. California-Berkeley

DATELINE: Berkeley, Calif.


World-renowned UC Berkeley biblical scholar David Daube died Wednesday. He was 90.

Daube used his vast biblical knowledge and amiable personality to charm and inspire thousands of students -- many of whom have become distinguished professors themselves -- throughout his career as a professor at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall law school, according to Robert Cole, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of law.

"As a scholar, he was one of the greatest scholars in the world," Cole said yesterday. "He was just a titan in the fields of Roman law and Jewish law and biblical interpretation. His students are in many of the key professorships around the world. He was one of the all-time great scholars."

Daube, who taught at Boalt Hall from 1970 to 1994, died from pneumonia at Oak Park Convalescent Hospital in Pleasant Hill.

Born on Feb. 8, 1909 in Freiburg, Germany, Daube received his undergraduate degree from the University of Freiburg and the University of Gottingen. In 1936, he received his doctorate from Cambridge University and in 1955, he obtained a master's degree from Oxford University.

His vast knowledge of Roman law, biblical law, Hebraic law and ethics established Daube as a prominent and recognized scholar in the world.

Daube spoke German, French, Latin, ancient Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic before he learned English after fleeing to England from Germany to escape the Nazis in 1933.

More than a dozen books have been written by the professor, and his list of accomplishments includes publishing more than 150 articles in scholarly journals, serving as a fellow at All Souls College at Oxford from 1955 to 1970, as well as becoming Regius Professor of Civil Law at Oxford University.

A number of his books include "The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism," "Studies in the Roman Law of Sale" and "Civil Disobedience in Antiquity."

At UC Berkeley, Daube inspired his students through his entertaining, friendly and personal lectures.

His talent to inspire and motivate led him to develop and mold some of the most talented scholars in the world.

The students Daube molded have been so prominent that at one point in his life, every academic chair in Roman law and ancient history in Britain was held by one of his former students.

Not only was he prominent as a "titan" in biblical studies, Daube's warm and approachable personality attracted many people to him, according to Cole.

He was an excellent and close friend with an ability to draw in many friends.

"The other thing that was so extraordinary is that he was a genius in personal relationships," Cole said. "He had thousands of friends whom he paid a great deal of attention to, loved, was interested in, talked to and inspired. This combination is one of the greatest. It just doesn't happen.

"I think that most students at Berkeley didn't realize that there was a man of such towering importance and goodness here," he added. "It's just an enormous loss. He has so influenced so many people that his work and spirit will live on."

Daube is survived by his wife, Helen Smelser Daube, three children from a previous marriage, six stepchildren from his marriage to Helen and six grandchildren.

A funeral service was held yesterday morning at the Congregation B'nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek.

Boalt Hall law school is expected to hold a memorial service for Daube in April.

(C) 1999 Daily Californian via U-WIRE